European ski resorts might have a reputation for luxury chalets and high-end clientele, but more cater for the budget skier than you might think. Try unlikely destinations, off-peak discounts and smart travel and you can still have that stylish holiday on the slopes.
Eastern Europe is fast becoming a hot-bed for cheaper skiing, as countries of the former Eastern Bloc have joined the European Union and opened up to tourism over the last few years. As a relatively new industry, you can get some downright scandalous discounts on things such as flights and accommodation in countries from Poland to Romania.
In the heart of the continent, close by such ski giants as Switzerland and Germany, countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia are starting to attract visitors looking for ski deals. Slovenia, said to have invented the sport, boasts all the scenery of the Julian Alps without over-charging for it and a very reasonable Bohinj lift pass lets you roam free on the pistes around beauty spots such as Lake Bled and Krvavec.
Another approach is to avoid the big names and seek out the smaller villages instead. The Tignes region in France is home to major ski area Espace Killy but if you stay at Les Boisses or Les Brevieres, you can get close to the action and take advantage of ski deals. Similarly, Austria’s Soll resort comes with access to Kitzbuhel and St Johann but its kilometer distance from the slopes means prices are lower.
Look At All The Options
A budget ski holiday may be just a case of shopping around. Look at accommodation options like self-catering or just rent a room or two in a hotel, instead of letting the whole chalet. You could dine like royalty at Michelin-starred eateries, but trying smaller caffs away from the ski areas and taking your own provisions during the day may save you vital funds.
Consider other expenses such as childcare. Many packages, particularly those in family-friendly resorts will include this in the price. All-inclusive deals can be a money-saver in any case, making sure you don’t exceed your budget and getting plenty of free extras that still offer the feeling of luxury.
Discount flights are all very well, but check transfer costs from airports and around the resort, especially if it is a large one, to make sure you won’t get any unexpected hikes in price. You can often share transfers, use the efficient rail services in places like Austria or hire a car yourself.
Deciding when to go can also have a considerable impact on cost. Peak season such as February half-term will see resorts in demand and consequently expensive, but try December and January (avoiding the Christmas period) as these months can have variable snows, which puts off many skiers. Here, you can avoid congested slopes and get more for your money, too.
As with much in life, skiing on the cheap is a case of shopping around and planning costs before you go, such as equipment rental and where you will find good value dining. Consistent snowfall, picturesque villages and cosy overnight stays may be high on most people’s list of priorities, but there is no need to rack up a huge bill. So long as you pick your destination, amenities and season wisely, there is nothing to stop the budget traveler having the luxury holiday of a lifetime.
Delia Hummock is a travel writer and activity holiday specialist, contributing guest posts to a variety of websites and blogs. She takes particular interest in luxury experiences for the money-conscious, having tested many budget holidays and ski deals herself.